Category: Josh's Hype Posts


Over 1 billion cell phones are now sold world wide annually, with well over 200 million in use in the United States alone. With almost everyone seeming to have one these days – from Grandma Pat to 10 year old Cousin Kimmie – there is a strong market for anything “mobile.”

One thing that everyone with phones can attest to is that the carrier company will charge you for anything and everything they can. As the capabilities of our phones grows exponentially – one of the basic upgrades you can do for your phone is to get a custom ringtone. Ringtones are a great way to show you aren’t technology handicapped by sporting the carriers’ theme ringer that is all too familiar to anyone not living in a box. Custom ID ringtones ring only when the person it is set for calls – so you can know who is calling before you even get out the phone – for example when “Mama Said” by The Shirelles goes off you know it’s your Mom calling you without looking at the phone, as opposed to if “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train goes off – you know that is the ID ringtone of your girlfriend, and so on and so forth.

The downside however is that ringtones from your carrier can cost anywhere from $2.99 to $5.99 for a 15 second sound clip that usually isn’t from the best part of the song, or isn’t very good quality. So what’s my tech solution? Mobile17

Mobile17.com is a free website that only requires that you sign up for a free user name account so it can store your phone brand and carrier info so you don’t have to go though the set-up process every time you go to their site.

Cell phone selection menu

On this page you are asked to select the type of cell phone you use based on your service provider, cell phone brand, and cell phone model

After initially signing up the free account and selecting your carrier brand (Verison, AT&T, etc.) and your phone brand (Moterolla, Samsung, Apple, HTC, etc.) your phone model (Chocolate Touch, Rogue, iPone, Droid, etc.) and entering in your phone number you’re set to go. All you have to do is click “Create a new ringtone” and browse to upload the song you would like to use from your computer.

Also keep in mind that you can use websites to rip songs for free – as mentioned in my previous post “YouTube Audio Ripping – The Newest Secret in Internet Piracy.”

Uploading a song file

Here is the window used to upload a music file to be used as your ringtones. Enter file information as well as the in and out points for where the ringtone should start and end.

From there you enter in at what time in the song you want the ringtone to start at, and what time you want it to end at (keeping in mind most phones will cut clips off at anything past 25-30 seconds). A cool new feature to the site in the last few months is recognition of the song title when you enter it – and presenting time suggestions that were most popular with other users who uploaded the same song.

Wait time message for ringtone

Once the upload is complete, as message appers confirming the upload, and stating the wait time before the file can send. You can also opt to skip the line by donating to the website.

The only downside to the free service is the wait time. Sometimes it can take as little as 20 minutes for your ringtone to send, but others I have had to wait as long as 4 or 5 hours for it to go through. It all depends on how much traffic and demand there is on their site, as well as how much traffic is on your cell phone providers network. The alternative is to pay a small donation to Mobile17 and they’ll send the ringtone right away – but the point of this article is to tell you free ways to get stuff, and that is the route I recommend as long as you aren’t in a desperate need to get that latest tune as your ringtone.

Occasionally Mobile17 drops the ball and your free ringtone never comes. Nothing lost – you simply have to go back onto the site and upload and send the song again. Mobile17 also lets you custom create wallpaper images for your phone as well, but my experiences with that show it’s not as reliable as their ringtone services. The images are often not formatted right with parts being cropped or edged with a white border because of sizing and formatting mistakes.

Mobile17 is another great free tech tool out there for anyone looking to keep their technology fresh and changing. Custom ringtones are a fun way to keep your phone new, and a great trick to knowing who’s calling you before you even pull your phone out. The ease of their service at Mobile17 is great, and as long as you don’t mind a bit of a wait for the free tone to get to your phone – you are guaranteed to love this program.

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

Few people know about a handful of new websites that are popping up on the web – YouTube to MP3 converters. These websites are designed to analyze and rip the audio off of YouTube videos simply by entering the videos URL link into their pages analyzer. In a few seconds the website automatically takes you to a second page where there is a link to download the audio file.

The uses for such content are as endless as the types of video content available on YouTube. The most popular use is a new way around copyright and anti-piracy laws. As the FCC continues to impose immense fines on average citizens for quote “stealing music” by downloading through 3rd party “peer-to-peer” software like Limewire and iMesh instead of purchasing the content through programs like iTunes, more people are looking for ways around the system – and this boys and girls, is it.

YouTube2mp3 Converter

Enter the URL of the video location into the space provided and the converter does the rest!

Now acquiring that new song you just heard on the radio for free is as simple as looking up it’s music video on YouTube, copying the URL from your browser navigation, and pasting it onto one of the easy converter websites, and let them do the rest. You can also get sound bites from your favorite movies, TV shows or commercials. If the video is on YouTube, the audio can be yours.

A simple Google search for “YouTube to MP3 converter” will lead you to several websites providing conversion of YouTube videos to links of their ripped audio. There are several that will drop the conversion half way through, be unable to locate the video, or that will convert it and make you buy something from a sponsoring website before you can download the ripped audio.

Firefox ad-on

This is what the YouTube2mp3 Firefox ad-on looks like when downloaded for free from YouTube2mp3.net

There are two main reliable pages that will convert for free and without the B.S. of needing to support their sponsors; Dirpy, and Video2mp3. Video2mp3 even has a free Firefox ad-on that when downloaded allows you to skip going to their website all together and convert right from the page with the YouTube video itself.

Whether you’re looking for a way to get free music to put on your iPod or content to make a ringtone with – ripping audio from YouTube videos for free is one new way around the system. The best part is that going through these sites you avoid the dangers of viruses and government tracking that peer-to-peer programs present.

So check out Dirpy and Video2mp3 for yourself and see what this best-kept net secret is all about. Thanks for reading – stay tuned for more High-Tech-Hype!

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

When doing research for a previous blog here on High-Tech-Hype called “‘Stumble Upon’ Endless Personalized Possibilities,” I came across the coolest web browser I have seen to date.

It seems that the Windows “Explorer” browser went to the wayside years ago when Mozilla’s “FireFox” was realized to be the much more sleek and reliable alternative to the Window’s default browser that comes standard on all PC’s. On Mac computers Safari is the default browser included on their machines, although Firefox and other companies have now released Mac friendly versions of their browsers. Most recently we have seen the Google franchise take their swing at the competitive free browser market with their product “Google Chrome,” and the most hyperactive and creative ad campaign for browsers yet to date with a cartoon cat telling us that we should be expecting more from our browsers and internet.

Now I will be completely honest and upfront in admitting that I have still not tried Google Chrome yet, but I am very familiar with Explorer, FireFox (for Mac and PC) Safari, and now Opera.

When researching StumbleUpon for that previous article, I discovered that one of the browsers that supports StumbleUpon was something called Opera – and since I had never heard of it before I did a quick search for it and was blown away!

Opera Speed-Dial

The Opera browser's Speed Dial feature can hold up to 25 of your favorite pages in a highly visual organization.

Opera has several features that no other web browser has, as well as some of the other popular features of its leading competitors. I think the coolest feature unique to Opera is the “Speed Dial.” It is a menu of up to 25 pages you choose, set up like the keypad on a phone. It’s a great way to visually organize the pages you use most, and comes up automatically when you click the plus sign to add a new tab (a common feature now on the latest versions of FireFox and Explorer).

Opera mouse geatures

A break down of some of the simply mouse gesture features of Opera 10.50

Another feature unique to Opera are the simple mouse gestures. To go back to the previous page, you hold down right mouse button, move mouse left, and release or hold the right button down and click the left button. To open a new tab, hold down right mouse button, move mouse down, and release. Easy commands that make web browsing that much easier.

Opera has several security features visible to the end user. One is the option to delete private data, such as HTTP cookies, the browsing history, and the cache, with the click of a button. This lets users erase personal data after browsing from a shared computer. When visiting a secure web site, Opera encrypts data using either SSL 3 or TLS, both of which are highly secure encryption protocols. It then adds information about the site’s security to the address bar. It will also check the web site that is being visited against blacklists for phishing and malware, and warn if it matches any of these lists. This behavior is enabled by default, but the user may opt to not make such checks automatically. If this check is disabled, the user can still check sites individually by opening a Page Info dialog.

One set of third-party speed tests concluded that Opera 9.5 was indeed faster than Internet Explorer 7 and prerelease versions of Firefox 3 and Safari 3. Opera was designed with a commitment to computer accessibility for users who have visual or motor impairments.

To see some of Opera’s features – check out the video tutorial below>. To download Opera free for your PC or mobile device, click here. Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more High-Tech-Hype!

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

I have known my friend Drew since we were in the 7th grade together almost 10 years ago now. He is one of the most tech savvy people I have ever met – and for years he has been a big promoter and active user of the internet community tool ‘StumbleUpon.’

An internet community, or virtual community, is a social network of individuals who interact through specific media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals. In this particular instance, StumbleUpon is an Internet community that allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos. It is a personalized recommendation engine which uses peer and social-networking principles.

The StumbleUpon tool for your browser

Highlights of the functions and buttons of the Firefox version of the StumbleUpon toolbar

Pages are presented to the user when they press the “stumble” button on their browser toolbar add-on. StumbleUpon chooses which Web page to display based on the user’s ratings of previous pages, ratings by his/her friends, and by the ratings of users with similar interests. The user then has the option to either “thumbs-up” the page, “thumbs-down” the page, or to not enter any preference. This information is logged by the StumbleUpon engine to be used in future stumbles by either knowing to include similar content if rated thumbs-up or to avoid content with similar characteristics if rated thumbs-down.

Stumble Upon Prefrence Options

When setting-up StumbleUpon you are given over 500 possible interests to choose from which begins to form a framework of content you would find interesting.

StumbleUpon also allows their users to indicate their interests from a list of nearly 500 topics to produce relevant content for the user aside from the “thumbs-up” “thumbs-down” rating of content as it appears. There is also one-click blogging built in as well. Toolbar versions of StumbleUpon exist for Firefox, Mozilla Application Suite, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, and a hand full of other 3rd party browsers.

StumbleUpon presents an easy way to “channel surf” the web and discover content you would in no other way be possibly exposed to. Today, StumbleUpon serves more than 9,854,813 members and it is still growing in popularity, especially for those in times of procrastination and in search of pointless, entertaining, random distraction.

Check out a web page version of StumbleUpon: Video by clicking that link to get a hands on feel for their approach and how it works. If you like it, head to the official StumbleUpon page and get the ad on for your browser!

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

One of the biggest dilemmas presented by the concept of the internet is the protection of personal content. The premise of the internet is the open sharing of content through an ever growing complex “web” of pages and links. But as the internet has exploded to new mediums, platforms, and concepts for usage and content – the unending battle of copyright infringements is just one of the shockwaves that has rippled across the ever widening pond called ‘the net’.

Now I am not at all about to get into the legality of piracy, etc., instead I was recently tipped on a new underground trend used to obtain massive files without paying for the content. Almost every semi-conscious American under the age of 30 has probably downloaded or obtained content of some kind illegally at some point.

Napster Screen Shot

A screen shot from March 8, 2000 when Napster was still in it's Beta stages

The site that started it all right around the year 2000 was Napster, followed there after by other top hit freeware software like iMesh and Limewire. The concept of peer-to-peer content sharing quickly turned into the black market for online content. Everything from music and videos to software and games became only a click away to anyone with something better than a dial-up connection.

Peer-to-peer networking, commonly referred to as P2P, is any distributed network structure composed of participants that make a portion of their resources (such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth) directly available to other network participants, without the need for central coordination instances (such as servers or stable hosts) Peers are both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the traditional client–server model where only servers supply, and clients consume.

Limewire Screen Shot

Limewire became the most popular Peer-To-Peer network and remaind so for several years through the mid 2000's

P2P engines like iMesh and Limewire have declined steadily in popularity and functionality over the past few years. Viruses and misnamed or foe-files spread more and more as they were downloaded by its users at the same time that legal battles began, and the FCC began targeting average Americans one-by-one for their use of file sharing software. As users backed away out of fear and frustration, the iMesh and Limewire platforms for sharing files began to unravel. Without users to host content, there is less and less legitimate content for other users to consume.

The decline of freeware software marked the beginning of iTunes run in the spotlight in combination with Apple’s explosively popular MP3 and other mobile devices. While some were happy with paying .99 cents per tune, others still looked elsewhere to obtain content without paying. What came next is our present day model of internet piracy, and for tech nerds like me it is one of the most complex and fascinating examples of just what the internet is truly capable of.

First implemented in early July 2002, BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it may account for as much as 43 % of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009.

Torrent Comp

An example of a torrent system in action. (Image from Wikipedia)

First, a user playing the role of file-provider makes a file available to the network. This first user’s file is called a seed and its availability on the network allows other users, called peers, to connect and begin to download the seed file. As new peers connect to the network and request the same file, their computer receives a different piece of the data from the seed. Once multiple peers have multiple pieces of the seed, BitTorrent allows each to become a source for that portion of the file. The effect of this is to take on a small part of the task and relieve the initial user, distributing the file download task among the seed and many peers. With BitTorrent, no one computer needs to supply data in quantities which could jeopardize the task by overwhelming all resources, yet the same final result—each peer eventually receiving the entire file—is still reached.

After the file is successfully and completely downloaded by a given peer, the peer is able to shift roles and become an additional seed, helping the remaining peers to receive the entire file. This eventual shift from peers to seeders determines the overall ‘health’ of the file (as determined by the number of times a file is available in its complete form).

While this new system of downloading isn’t useful for just getting that one song you heard on the radio, it is useful for sharing albums, collections, or even entire discographies – as well as full length high quality movies and large software files. It is however much harder for federal agents to track and determine who is downloading a given file because the seed the user is downloading is being pulled from multiple hosts through a variety of internet mirrors.

It is unclear how long of a run BitTorrenting will have before it meets its inevitable demise as all the other systems previously discussed did. One thing is for certain though – as long as there are users on the internet who desire a particular type of content, there will always be new ways of obtaining it. In a future article I will explore one of the new methods being used to obtain audio files, both popular and obscure – and its not from a P2P network. Stay tuned…

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

Paladin – A Rogue Antivirus Program

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

This post is a little different then some of the other articles we will do for this site. Today’s topic isn’t a new or trendy product or technology that deserves my analysis and promotion – but rather an extremely useful and potentially “life saving” piece of security technology your PC may be in desperate need of.

At the beginning of this past week – I was hit with a nasty virus that rendered my PC unusable. When streaming videos on my lunch at work, a box popped up in the middle of my screen telling me to download Palidin Anti-Virus because it detected my computer had no anti-virus protection. I knew this was a scam immediately because I had just recently purchased McAfee Anti-Virus, and because this prompt window had no exit “X” button to close out of the window. Any legitimate program would have the option to close. As I was putting this together it automatically started an install behind the pop-up box, with no option to stop the install. I tried to “alt-F4” it to force close the program. It worked for a few minutes before the whole thing happened again. When it finished I tried to open McAfee to scan and remove the bad files, but when I clicked on McAfee nothing would happen, not even an hourglass. My computer became virtually useless until the “blue screen of death” (the windows error screen) came up and my computer automatically restarted. After that I was unable to enter my username and password to even log on to my user interface.

Palidin is a rogue antivirus program which acts as a clean-up program. It is one of several fake software programs that often come bundled with trojan-rootkits that block legitimate anti-spyware software from removing it and its corrosive components. Rootkits currently represent the greatest threat to PC users. They install themselves invisibly on a target system and give the attacker full control over the system. Once installed, clever hiding mechanisms make Rootkits very difficult or even impossible to detect. To get rid of this kind of problem you have to remove the trojan-rootkit first. This can be done with two programs.

Start by restarting your computer, the press and hold F8 key for 3 seconds after your computer initially powers on (right away!). Once you see the Advanced Boot Options menu (or hear a beep) you can stop. Then use the up/down arrow keys to highlight first “Last Known Good Configuration,” which is what worked for me, or if that doesn’t work with the following steps, then do the previous and instead select “Safe Mode with Networking” and press Enter. You should see drivers loading, this may take a few moments. You should then be at the Welcome Screen. Logon to your computer using an account with Administrator privileges, and log online and do a Google search for “Combofix” and for “Malwarebytes” or “MBAM” for short. Download both programs, both are TOTALLY FREE, and first run the Combofix scanner. This program is able to dig deep within the system to pull out the rootkit trojans that bury themselves so deep into your computer, the most popular pay scanners including Norton Antivirus, McAfee, and Spy-Sweeper cannot detect. Give this program full access despite a few warnings that may pop-up, these only appear because the scanner is digging so deep into the computers opperating processes to search for the trojan. After this scans and restarts your computer, run the “Malwarebytes” scanner to remove the rest of Paladin and the remaining traces of the trojan. When MBAB is done, your computer will again restart and it should be back to its old-self, if not better from other hidden viruses that your professional scanner missed.

It really is concerning that the expensive scanners miss these devastating trojans, and free scanners only a google search away can eliminate them in under a half hour really astounds me. These viruses are becoming more and more prevalent since they are so tricky to erase. If you think you may have been compromised, or even if not – it still is a good idea to run these deep scanners to make sure you are clean and that no-one has hacked into your computer.

There are a few alternate ways to take care of this same problem. If this doesn’t work for you or someone you know with this problem, please look to this discussion board for further tips on how to remove the virus and rootkit. http://tinyurl.com/y97qp9w

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

Delicious.com Makes Bookmarking Tasty

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

I was just recently turned on to the website Delicious.com – a “social bookmarking” page that will come in handy for any student or professional who uses two or more computers on a regular basis.

THE PREMISE: Log into your account on Delicious.com from any internet accessible computer, and save web pages to your account instead of the traditional “Bookmarks” or “Favorites” menu of your browser. You can then pull up your favorites on the site from any computer – any time. They also incorporate the ever increasingly popular  Social Networking concept by allowing users to see popular sites that are being added by other users. You can also add friends and follow their favorites as well.

THE UP-SIDE: Being a college student with a PC Laptop, a Mac desktop, and using several different computer labs on campus, the premise of keeping my favorites with me no matter where I am is a life saver for assignments of any kind, and the same would be true for any professional going between the office computer and their home computer. The option of their Browser ad-on lets you ad sites to your Delicious favorites with only one click. The display of “Freshest” and “Popular” bookmarks are a great way to get introduced to other interesting and useful websites.

THE DOWN-SIDE: Not much. You have to have a Yahoo account to use delicious, and that becomes your account on the site. Thankfully, signing up for a Yahoo account is pretty easy – only taking about 5 minutes – but it is still another service you need to register for. If you are already a member of a work e-mail client, gmail, aol, etc., it is just another thing you’ll have to keep track of. Also, your favorites list is public to other users – so you don’t have much privacy in your list.

OVERALL RATING: Overall I give this site 5 out of 5 gigs for its easy use, easy navigation, good organization, and a concept that is sure to make any computer nerds life more organized and more efficient. Truly a must join!! To learn more check them out at Delicious.com.

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com